Group promotes prayer at schools.
The students joined with others of a similar mind-set to encourage other students throughout Texas to meet at their school flagpoles to pray simultaneously. Their vision was soon named "See You at the Pole." Their idea was shared with 20,000 students at Reunion Arena in Dallas, in June 1990.
At 7:00 a.m. on September 12, 1990, more than 45,000 teenagers met at school flagpoles in four different states to pray before the start of school. See You at the Pole (SYATP) became an annual event scheduled on the fourth Wednesday of September, and by 2006, more than two million teenagers met for See You at the Pole in all 50 states.
The SYATP website informs students: "While there is no requirement to ask the administration or school board's permission to meet, it is wise and courteous to inform the administration about See You at the Pole. According to Supreme Court precedent and their constitutional rights, students already have permission. SYATP is student-led, it is before school hours, and it is outside of any school building. It does not cost the district anything financially for students to meet to pray, so they aren't 'establishing religion' with tax money."
This year's SYATP events received generous media coverage. For example, the Monroe News (Monroe County, Michigan) reported about one SYATP event dedicated to Megan Hildebrand and Kyle Sexton, two teenagers who died as a result of a car crash in August: "40 or more students, along with some administrators and community, church and family members of the two teens, circled the flagpole in front of Airport High School in Carleton." Katie Sexton, Kyle's sister, spoke after the prayer circle was finished and thanked everyone there for showing their support and keeping Megan and Kyle in their thoughts. She told the group that the event was something both deceased teens would have supported: "Both of them were very strong in their faith. They loved God with all their hearts."
The News reported that at Monroe High School, about 70 students gathered to show their faith. Guidance counselor Sandy Kreps told reporters she was impressed by the reverence that those students who weren't participating in the gathering showed to those who were.
"It was a really nice atmosphere," Mrs. Kreps said. "There was incredible respect for those who were gathering and for those who were walking by--on both sides. People assume that faith has to be separate from school, and I think that this shows it can be part of it."
The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware) reported about 40 students and teachers who gathered at Concord High School's flagpole to pray.
Chris Heider, a junior, was grateful that some teachers joined the students in prayer: "It gave me confidence that with all the things taught in school about ... evolution and stuff ... that you don't think are very 'Christianized'... to see teachers believe what you believe."
"I really like seeing who is a Christian at my school and talking to them and showing my faith to everyone who walks into the building, so they know that I believe in God," sophomore Kelsie Jones said.
The reporter observed that some students felt awkward at first, because classmates might think that praying in public was not "cool."
"My first year, it was tough," junior Katrice Brown said.
But Katrice got over her awkwardness and now prays confidently. She told the paper: "It's a good thing to pray for the school and have protection with all the school shootings and stuff."
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|Title Annotation:||THE GOODNESS OF AMERICA|
|Publication:||The New American|
|Date:||Dec 24, 2007|
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